Sometimes big changes aren’t always immediately visible. Such is the case with the building project recently completed at the Centennial Fine Arts Center on Aultman Street.
Walking down 9th Street, a passer-by might not notice a new door neatly tucked into the northwest corner of the building. Behind that door lies Phase One of the White Pine Community Choir’s project to install universal access into the building.
“We are so pleased to have the first phase of the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] project done,” said Mary Eldridge, the choir’s grants coordinator. “We will continue to work to fund the installation of the elevator so the building can be accessible to all.”
Eldridge went on to explain that the planning and funding for this project began three years ago, but that plans were delayed by the pandemic.
“The scarcity of contractors with experience in historic buildings coupled with supply chain issues during the pandemic slowed our progress down in the beginning,” she explained. The delay in the project start date meant that the original budget of $300,000 was insufficient to see the entire project through. Costs had skyrocketed.
However, choir members persisted. The Community Choir was fortunate to make contact with Schell Creek Construction, which has roots in White Pine County. After owner Jerry Ricci expressed his interest in helping the choir renovate the Centennial Fine Arts Center, the choir contracted with Schell Creek to work on the ADA access.
Working together, Schell Creek and the community choir developed a two phase plan for the ADA project. “In our first phase we have upgraded the electrical system, worked on structural supports, and prepared the elevator shaft. In the second phase we will install the elevator and complete the wall finishes and interior elevator access,” Eldridge said.
The choir has long-range plans for the Centennial Fine Arts Center (CFAC). “Planned projects included replacing the main roof (which will begin next month), shoring up the foundation, and replacing the leaky roof on the kitchen annex,” Eldridge explained. “Once the building is stabilized, work on the interior can begin.”
The choir’s goal is to restore the CFAC so that it once again serves as a meeting and gathering place for the people of White Pine County. The choir looks forward to the day when both the interior and exterior of the CFAC are completely renovated and the building can fulfill its promise to be a center for the arts as well as a venue to host a variety of meetings and gatherings.
“We are so appreciative of the community support we have received,” stated Eldridge. “It has been wonderful to see private citizens, businesses, and city, county, and state governments as well as private foundations financially support the renovation and restoration of this architectural treasure.”